Sunday, March 22, 2009

Them's Fightin Words, or Shooting words?

A man who shot and wounded a fellow Internet chatter outside a Westchester Best Buy was sentenced to 30 years.

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This article on the surface seems like just another angry man flying off the handle, look closer and you'll see non functional boundaries at work.

It's not possible to get upset over what others say about you if you have functional boundaries!


William Cruz and Yanko Diaz first met and traded insults in a Latin Internet chat room.

In real life, words turned to bullets.

William ''Cubano35'' Cruz shot Yanko ''Latengoparada'' Diaz in May 2005 outside a Westchester Best Buy. Suspected motive: Cruz was jealous that he was left out of real-life gatherings of chat-room pals.

Cruz, 42, now must serve 30 years in prison, a Miami-Dade judge ruled Friday.

''I think that when you took those actions, you didn't care about the consequences,'' Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez told Cruz.

Diaz, 26, of Hialeah, whose Spanish screen name translates to a phrase indicating his sexual arousal, survived with bullet wounds to the right wrist and the left thumb and buttocks.

''You never know who you are dealing with on the Internet. Clever screen names don't protect you,'' said Miami-Dade prosecutor Suzanne Bell. ``Yanko Diaz almost lost his life when virtual bluster and bravado in a chat room were transformed into real bullets.''


Jurors convicted Cruz of second-degree attempted murder in January. During trial, prosecutors Bell and Suzanne Von Paulus told this tale:

It started in a chat room called ''Cuba1,'' accessed through

''A small group of people would talk about various things. It was a way to meet friends,'' Diaz said in a sworn affidavit. ``It was a specific group for Cubans looking to meet Cubans.''

Chatters included ''El Habanero'' (Havana Man), ''La Gata Fiera'' (The Raging Cat) and ''Dura y Peligrosa'' (Tough and Dangerous). Through chatting, Diaz even met his girlfriend, Yosandra Piedra, ''La Villana'' (The Villain).

Sometimes, the group met socially, sans Cruz. Diaz said: ``I believe this made him jealous and envious.''

Cruz began insulting people for no reason, telling them of his gun and plans to ''empty it on all of us,'' chatters said.

Cruz later claimed the chatters ganged up on him because they mistakingly believed he was mistreating a cyber girlfriend from Sweden.

Somehow, Cruz got Diaz's cellphone number. For weeks, he threatened him.

Finally on May 7, 2005, Diaz agreed to meet Cruz to talk at the Best Buy, 7755 SW 40th St., just past 9 p.m.

But as Diaz pulled up in his black Toyota Camry, Cruz appeared and shot into the car, wounding Diaz as shoppers fled for cover.

''I got you right where I want you and here is the gift I am going to give your mother for Mother's Day,'' Cruz yelled, Diaz remembered.


Cruz told police that Diaz, from behind tinted windows, may have posed a threat.

On Friday, Diaz and Piedra -- who have a son together now -- appeared in court.

A bullet remains lodged in his thigh, causing pain in cold weather and triggering alarms at airport checkpoints, Diaz told the judge.

Cruz was defiant and rambling in court, calling Diaz a liar.

''He truly believes he is a victim,'' said his defense lawyer, Rene Palomino.

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